County moves forward to hire Deputy County Attorney
by Roma Young
The San Juan County Commission approved the advertising for a new position, deputy county attorney. The new position was discussed at the July 20 meeting of the Commissioners.
County Attorney Kendall Laws asked for the creation of the new position, with an estimated starting salary between $60,000 and $70,000 a year.
Previously, Walter Bird was working as Deputy County Attorney under the direction of Craig Halls. In addition, Bird has been serving as the county Human Resource Director and Planning and Zoning Director.
Commissioner Adams asked why the proposed job description was so general and thought it could be more specific to address specific court duties, such as district, juvenile or justice courts.
Laws said that a general job description would be better, as the new deputy could not state that something was not in their job description. Laws said that would make it more flexible.
Laws said if the county wants to remain status quo, they are probably staffed appropriately, but if they would like to be more pro active in intervening in special cases, he will need additional staffing.
Commission Chairman Phil Lyman said they should play to Law’s strengths in land and water issues, based on his law degree. They approved the position to be advertised. Commissioner Rebecca Benally cautioned that the county should utilize county personnel to work for the best of the county.
In other business, Commissioner Bruce Adams made a statement in regards to the lands bill discussion. The San Juan County Lands Council has made a recommendation to the commission for the proposed Southeast Utah Lands Bill, which is sponsored by Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz.
The bill is designed to address longstanding issues surrounding public land in southeast Utah.
Adams said the proposal supported by the Lands Council was developed by a group of area residents under the direction of Commissioner Lyman.
Adams said any perception that the proposal is “his lands bill” is not correct. It is the result of a lot of hard work and compromise on the part of the land owners who participated on the lands council. Adams said he is accepting their recommendation.
Lyman and Benally agreed that it is the recommendation of the Lands Council and the commissioners are supportive of that recommendation.
The lands bill is still moving forward as Nick Sandberg and State Senator David Hinkins met with the Utah Navajo Commission and seven chapter presidents at the Monument Valley Visitors Center.
Sandberg would like to see the chapters draft resolutions in support of whatever proposal they support. The Bears Ears Coalition has a proposal and the Diné Bikeyah proposal has expanded further north into San Juan County.
Commissioners noted the death of Blanding resident Marilyn Boynton, who was known to many as the “fourth commissioner”. She has been laid to rest in Colorado, but her family will have a memorial service on Saturday, July 25 at 5 p.m. at the Hideout Community Center.
Commissioner Benally commented on the death of three members of the Martin family from the Montezuma Creek area. They were killed in a head-on collision while traveling in Montana. Benally said there have been seven recent deaths in the Aneth, Montezuma Creek, and Mexican Water area of the county.
Bonnie McFeldt was hired as the La Sal Senior Center and Kedric Musselman was promoted to the north shop foreman for the road department, after the resignation of Paul Langston.
Tammy Gallegos brought a $338,000 pass-through contract from the State of Utah to provide Aging Services. Commissioner Adams said Utah Aging Agency personnel state that Gallegos is the best Aging Services Director in the state.
Linda Larson requested travel for four to Las Vegas for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training. Training is required for EMTs to remain certified, but it is difficult to send all EMT’s to the same conference and leave the county uncovered for emergency services. This was approved.
County Clerk John David Nielson requested out of state travel to Las Vegas for a one-day training for Deputy Clerk James Francom. This was approved. The clerk’s office will advertise for a part-time employee due to a recent resignation.
Commissioners approved a beer license application by David Kimmerle for a business at Halls Crossing.
The Board of Equalization approved a change in the status of a property near the Wellness Center in Blanding. The status was changed from commercial property to residential as there is not a business operating there, and it is really just a residential lot with a metal storage shed on it.